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Previously on The Judge 13:
Toro Rosso ditch JEV
This is hardly breaking news that will shock and surprise the F1 world, as the Red Bull B Team confirmed they will be parting ways with the somewhat unfortunate Jean-Eric Vergne. The clear policy of driver rotation was implemented as JEV was disposed of after what has been his most successful season in the sport so far.
Though Bernie has affirmed his belief that social media is a flash in the pan once again, likeable Frenchman broke the news to his followers on Twitter that he would not be competing in Formula One next season. The likelihood now is that we will see a repeat of 2012, Vergne’s rookie season in the sport, where we saw Ricciardo line-up next to him to make an all new pairing in Faenza.
Carlos Sainz Jr. from Madrid, is hotly tipped to be stepping into the firing line next year, partnering the 17 year old Max Verstappen. Sainz Jr., 20, is currently testing for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi as he is set to be broken into the world of Formula One. It seems once more that Franz Tost’s opinion has been discarded, given it was he who spoke at great length about his preference to have an experienced driver in the team next year.
So, it is the Madrid born driver, who appears to be the one who will start his career in F1 for Torro Rosso in 2015, after winning the Formula Renault 3.5 title this year, driving for DAMS and taking 7 poles, 7 race wins and 6 fastest laps from 17 opportunities.
Following his 54 laps for Lotus in the Abu Dhabi test, Alex Lynn commented. “My Toro Rosso chances are looking less and less but I’ve come to terms with the fact that the whole situation of trying to get to Formula One is very difficult so I’m just going to work my arse off to get in and make the most of the opportunities like this.”
Alex Lynn will be forced to battle it out elsewhere for the time being, as his GP3 title in 2014 and Macau GP victory in 2013 looks to be insufficient to secure a full-time F1 drive. However, time is short, because at 21 he is positively aged when compared to a number of the drivers lining up next year.
With Sainz Jr signed, the four Red Bull backed F1 drivers will have an average age of just 20.5 years old, when the grid is formed in for the first race in Melbourne, 2015.
Who says F1 is all about experience?
What could have been…or still might be
Pictures hit the internet last night of the Marussia Formula One entrant for 2015 , had the team not met their untimely demise. The former Russina backed team’s swansong in Russia was not spectacular, and subsequently, the team did not make it to Austin, Interlagos or Yas Marina season finale.
The pictures above, are from racecar-engineering.com, show the work to date that Marussia have put in for 2015. The Manor MNR1-Ferrari resembles the 2014 design, which demonstrates the shortage of resources available, though the release of these images, is likely an attempt to persuade any last minute buyers, there is still time to be ready to go racing in Australia – March 2015.
As for the Caterham design, it would be no surprise to see it pop next year, as a new team based in Germany – by the name of Forza Rossa.
That said, Finbar O’Connell did reveal following the substantial number of complaints and accusations against the Caterham-Kolles temporary management regime, he would be forced to investigate whether their tenure had been one of appropriate stewardship and presumably without illegal asset stripping activity.
Yet the reality is, were O’Connell to discover illegal practices and treatment of staff contracts and theft of intellectual property, there is little the authorities can do – due to the residence status of those appointed as statutory directors of the Caterham company – following Fernandes departure.
This however, should these allegations be found to be true, money talks and the creditors of the team are less likely to be concerned where the funds are derived to mitigate their losses.
Boullier states ‘No panic’ after disastrous Honda test debut
Before departing Abu Dhabi, boss Eric Boullier told Spanish television Movistar the British team has “no reason to panic”. However, this week has seen a fairly disastrous two test days at the Yas Marina circuit for McLaren. They brought an interim 2014 car to the post-race test – fitted with the brand new Honda ‘power unit’, as the partners prepare for the beginning of their ‘works team’ collaboration in 2015.
It is expected that Fernando Alonso will be the star driver.
But at the test, it was the in-house youngster Stoffel Vandoorne charged with driving duties. Over two days, the Belgian did not complete a single timed lap. Honda’s F1 chief Yasuhisa Arai, however, insisted he is not worried.
“The positive is that we know that basically everything works as it should,” he told Speed Week. “The energy recovery works. What did not work is the electronics. But I maintain that the engine itself is good,” the Japanese added.
“These power units are incredibly complex,” Arai continued. “We need to find out in detail what went wrong, but that is the job of the engineer — to solve problems.”
Officially, the next time the Honda engine will be run on track is next February at the Jerez test, mere weeks before the performance specification is ‘frozen’ for the 2015 season by the governing FIA. But Speed Week said it is possible the interim car will be run before the official winter test season, during another ‘filming day’.
Arai continued: “We believe we have done our homework and the hardware is healthy. Four months until Australia will be enough to be fit for the season. We strive to have a good place on the grid in Melbourne.”
Vettel to take Italian language lessons – report
Sebastian Vettel will take private lessons in Italian as he gets up to speed with life at Ferrari. After racing a Red Bull for the last time last Sunday, the German stayed in Abu Dhabi for the post-race test and appeared in the Ferrari garage in plain clothing.
As he is still under contract to the energy drink company for the rest of 2014, Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko said the appearance was “legally not ok but I couldn’t care less“.
That might be because Red Bull went back on an earlier pledge to Vettel that he be allowed to drive the 2014 Ferrari this week in Abu Dhabi. “Two weeks ago, everything was clear,” Vettel is quoted by Italy’s Tuttosport. “Then Adrian Newey said no.”
Marko explained to the Swiss newspaper Blick: “When Vettel asked me if he could test the Ferrari in Abu Dhabi, I said ok but that I would have to ask the engineers. They (the engineers) all complained!” Vettel’s first lap as a Ferrari driver is now expected to be at Jerez next February, as the 2015 winter tests kick off.
Until then, the quadruple world champion will be taking lessons in Italian, according to the sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Language is very important to me,” said the German, “so I want to understand everyone at Ferrari as well as I can.”
Vettel already speaks some Italian, after making his F1 debut in 2007 and 2008 with the Faenza based junior Red Bull team Toro Rosso.
Urgent EU investigation under way into legality of Formula One governance
As the Formula One world eagerly anticipated the ‘duel in the desert weekend ahead, TJ13 feature, “F1 and European Article 82”, revealed last week, that the EU Commission has been petitioned to urgently examine the legitimacy of Formula One’s governance.
Amongst other rulings, the above article detailed a ruling made by the EU Commission on Formula One governance back in 2001. The then arrangements were deemed to be illegal and future governance must ensure that there was no influence or bias to be placed upon the regulator of Formula One, from potential vested commercial interests.
“The role of FIA will be limited to that of a sports regulator, with no commercial conflicts of interest”.
The potential floatation of the sport was to see the FIA acquire just over a 1% shareholding in the commercial rights, however, the accounts of Delta Topco reveal that this share-holding was in fact granted to the FIA in January 2014.
More importantly, the newly formed F1 Strategy Group and the F1 commission which decide which regulation recommendations – both sporting and technical – are presented to the World Motor Sport Council for ratification, include both the regulatory body and the commercial rights holder in a constitutional voting system.
As TJ13 reported last Saturday, Anneliese Dodds of the UK Labour Party has written to the EU Commission’s competition arm in Brussells, expressing her concern over the legitimacy of the current governance structures within Formula One. She has since received confirmation that the commission will examine with some urgency her allegations.
The case appears cut and dry, that the 2001 EU ruling has been breached by the current structures for regulation Formula One. Further, the post Concorde agreements certain teams claim were forced upon them, appear to have been contrived by agreement amongst more powerful teams and the commercial rights holder – which is argued to be a ‘Cartel’.
The consequences of breaching the EU’s 2001 were made clear at the time. One such sanction could see the legal claim to the commercial rights to Formula One, stripped away from the current holder – once again.
Interestingly, CVC has in recent years sold around half of its share holding in the Formula One commercial rights, presumably anticipating potential problems which would see the EU intervene and their investment revoked.
TJ13 would urge all its readers to follow this link to Anneliese Dodds contact page and register your dissatisfaction or otherwise with F1’s current governance. Start you message with “Re: F1 Governance from a TJ13 reader” – this will help Ms Dodds’ assistants to group quickly and easily the responses.
Black and White? How about 50 shades of Grey?
It was Adrian Newey who was questioned on ‘the spirit of the regulations’ some years back.
His reaction was telling.
A smile curled across Newey’s usually serious face and he replied by enquiring as to the meaning of the questioner’s terminology.
Newey cleverly implied that Formula One regulations are objective – and that is what mattered – or so it seemed.
Following Red Bulls exclusion from qualifying in Abu Dhabi, Adrian and the aero team at Milton Keynes appear to be confused with, shall we say – 50 shades of grey. After the RB10 failed the front wing deflection test – by utilising a banned adjustable mechanical component.
declared instinctively, that Red Bull were not the only ones up to such trickery, but there were other teams also using such flexible front wings too.
The more a front wing can be made to ‘flex’ the advantages are two fold. Increased down force when cornering whilst it ‘fails’ on the straights to allow reduced drag.
Back in 2011, the Red Bull car was consistently one of the slowest in a straight line, despite being one of the quickest in qualifying. A Red Bull car failed to achieve pole position that year only once.
Jump forward two years to the 2013 season, and the start of the post summer shut down races which saw an incredibly dominant RB9 in the hands of Vettel, who achieved 9 victories in a row,
Red Bull brought an entirely new front wing to the Monza weekend. Vettel was 14th quickest through the speed traps that weekend, clocking 335.6 kph, as Daniel Ricciardo clocked 339.9 kph (excluding the anomalous result of Esteban Gutierrez who set his speed at the end of the race on brand new rubber). Many were shocked at how this advantage came from a seemingly high down force car, at a circuit suiting a low drag slippery creation.
Red Bull began that weekend with a top speed of 328 kph clocked a speed during the race that was 7 kph quicker – which would have required a far greater increase in output from the Renault engine than was available.
At the Hungarian GP this year, much was made of the RB10’s front wing’s flexibility, and a slightly smug Horner told the media, “There haven’t been many bits they haven’t complained about, I suppose there is always the paint colour, or something like that.
A lot of fuss has been made about the front wing – this week it is the front wing, last week it was the diffuser, the week before it was the suspension, the week before that it was active ride height.
At the end of the day we are very happy that the car complies with the regulations and the tests that the FIA have carried out. The car is in compliance with the regulations, and I think the technical team should take it is a compliment when others are questioning the legality.”
In Abu Dhabi, Christian “Save your own skin at all costs by deflecting the issue” Horner claimed that Red Bull’s closest competitor – Williams – also had a ‘ front wing which deflected ‘excessively’.
When questioned on the topic, Williams Head of Performance, Rob Smedley, said, “I think the FIA tested quite a few front wing flaps, certainly ours was tested, and it was passed as being legal. We had conversations with the FIA over the weekend, and in the end they were content with what we were doing, that we weren’t infringing the regulations.”
Yet there are a number of unanswered questions. Was this a setup? What would happen had a number of other teams been disqualified from qualifying?
Would we have seen a pack of chasing dogs released from the pit lane after the field had passed during the race start on Sunday?
Furthermore, was the decision taken that there is a limit to flexibility and that the RB wing must therefore now not exceed a certain amount?
After all, it was the Red Bull camp which made reference to how subjective the tests had been, undermining the belief that the FIA tests are uniform, competent and objective.
Smedley continued, “What other teams are doing I can’t really comment on, but certainly we had a legal car.”
“I am sure Horner’s correct that all teams are pushing, it just all depends on how far you are going to push doesn’t it? There’s a set of technical regulations, there’s a very clear article that you can’t have moveable aerodynamic devices on the car – article 3.15.”
So here’s another story from the current confused world of Formula One, which is clear as mud for the normal fans to understand.
Lewis in the doghouse
It seems that even when on top of the world the smallest thing can catch you off guard, as Lewis Hamilton this morning made an appearance on the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show. He raced host, Nick Grimshaw, in the ‘Radio 1 GP’ with James Allen commentating and Lee McKenzie being the reporter. The Briton seemed relaxed as he talked about how it felt to be the 2014 World Champion.
However, he did make the slight error of not recognising his long-time girlfriend’s song when a short clip was played. The song Scream was a collaboration between Sherzinger, Keri Hilson and American rapper Timbaland – even worse the fact he knew it was Timbaland he could hear!
Startled by his error, Hamilton said, “I can’t believe you did that to me. I’m going to get it when I get home.” Then Lewis made an attempt to cover his back as he stated. “The worst thing is that was a great song. We weren’t together when she did that song.”
Well Lewis, that’s not difficult. You and Sherzy have been on and off more times than and Israeli – Palestinian peace agreement.